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DETROIT — The Detroit Pistons have addressed their biggest need with one of the best free agents available.
Josh Smith and the Pistons have agreed to a $54 million, four-year contract, according to a person familiar with the deal. The person spoke to the Associated Press on Saturday on condition of anonymity because the agreement has not been announced.
NBA rules prevent confirmation of moves until July 10, when Smith is expected to sign his deal.
The 6-foot-9, 225-pound small forward scored a team-high 17.5 points last season for Atlanta and also averaged 8.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.8 blocks, and 1.2 steals.
Smith has only played for his hometown Hawks, who drafted him No. 17 overall out of high school in 2004 — soon after the Pistons won their third championship.
He has averaged 15.3 points, eight rebounds, and more than three assists, two blocks, and a steal during his career, which has not included an All-Star appearance. Smith had his best season — averaging career highs in points (18.8) and rebounds (9.6) — during the 2011-12 season. In 52 playoff games over the last six postseasons, he averaged slightly more points and rebounds for the Hawks.
The Pistons fired coach Lawrence Frank in April, a day after they finished 29-53, and hired Maurice Cheeks in the hopes that he could help end the franchise’s four-year postseason drought. Better players, of course, will help Detroit win more than any coach can from the sideline.
Detroit will likely start the 27-year-old Smith in its frontcourt with 23-year-old power forward Greg Monroe and center Andre Drummond, who turns 20 next month.
The backcourt will include point guard Brandon Knight and perhaps shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the No. 8 overall pick in last month’s draft.